Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Meeting the Surgeon

Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be meeting with the cardiac surgeon at Northwestern for the first time. My parents will be going to the appointment with me, and I plan to ask the doctor for permission to audio record the conversation so that I can be sure to keep track of everything that we discuss. Since I first got the news almost three weeks ago about needing this surgery, I've started compiling a list of questions to ask the cardiologist and/or the surgeon before going through with the procedure.

Here is the list of questions that I've come up with so far. This is not meant to serve as a comprehensive list for others in a similar situation, nor will these necessarily be the only things that get discussed tomorrow:
  1. What are the details of the procedure that will be done?
  2. How long is the surgery itself expected to last? 
  3. What is the expected time line for everything (surgery, hospital stay, recovery, and rehab)? The cardiologist initially suggested the following time line. Would you concur?
    • Hospital stay: 4 to 8 days
    • Recovery: 6 weeks (including hospitalization)
    • Cardiac rehab: 6 to 10 weeks
  4. What types of anesthesia will I be given? What are the expected after-effects?
  5. How likely is the need for a future surgery (in 10, 15, 20, 25, or more years)?
  6. How many of these surgeries have you performed? What is your mortality rate? What is your post-surgery infection rate?
  7. What are the immediate and long-term risks if I don’t have the surgery?
  8. Will I need to be on any anti-rejection drugs (or immunosuppressants) after the surgery?
  9. Will I need to be on any other types of medication (long- or short-term) after the surgery?
  10. What are the dietary and physical restrictions during the recovery and rehab (short term)?
    • When can I consume wine or other alcohol again?
    • When can I resume bicycling or other similar physical activities?
  11. What are the dietary and physical restrictions after recovery and rehab (long term)?
    • Will any of my regular activities have to be reduced or eliminated?
  12. A friend of mine said she recently read that some heart surgery patients have found singing to be very therapeutic, whether in an organized setting or just on their own (and regardless of whether or not they've ever sung before). What are your thoughts on singing—or music in general—as a type of post-surgery therapy?

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